Close to 600 people filled the Muriel Arnason library branch in Langley to celebrate the victory of light over dark at the 16th annual Diwali Festival celebration on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Event organizer, librarian Dr. Sarwan Singh Randhawa, said it may have been the best attendance to date.
“I think it’s the biggest, bigger than last year,” said Randhawa, who began holding Diwali celebrations when he was working in the Aldergrove library.
“[The event] was smaller, then,” he recalled.
Reaction to the celebration has been uniformly positive as it has grown over the years amnd shifted locations.
“The Langley community is so friendly,” Randhawa enthused.
Diwali, which means “a row of lights,” is the most widely celebrated festival in India, and marks the victory of good over evil and the beginning of the New Year.
Lighting of Deevas in every house is meant to bring brightness and joy, and hope of finding light in darkness, achieving knowledge where there is ignorance, and spreading love.
Those who attended the afternoon event at the library, located in the civic building at 203rd Street and 65th Avenue, took part in crafts, face painting, temporaray henna tattoos, music and live performances, displays, and tasty treats.
A dance troupe from Surrey performed and taught a few basic steps of the Punjabi folk dance, Bhangra to the visitors.
After performing a “fancy dance,” Langley-based First Nations dancer Shyama-Priya explained that her elaborate traditional garb, with its intricate beadwork took over a year to make by hand, with both her and her mother working on it.
“The beading took a few years, on and off,” she estimated.
Among the attendees was four-year-old Malia Hancock from Willoughby, who arrived dressed in a traditional sari and proudly displaying a henna design on one hand.
“It’s fun,” she smiled.
Dignitaries present included MP John Aldag, Township Mayor Jack Froese, Langley City Councillor Gayle Martin, Township Councillors Petrina Arnason and Bob Long as well as Township Arts, Culture, and Community Initiatives director Peter Tulumello, and Fraser Valley Regional Library director Heather Scoular.